Finance industry disruptor sets out to end predatory loans

Steven Furman is on a mission to reduce financial stress in the workplace. By Nina Hendy.

CFOs are stepping in to build more financially inclusive and supportive organisations with the help of a new HR fintech solution launched in 2021 by a finance industry disruptor.

Steven Furman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Paytime, an HR fintech that plugs seamlessly into payroll enabling employees to access a portion of their earned pay before pay day

The Sydneysider came up with the concept after realising that about half of Australians are now living pay cheque to pay cheque, many trapped in a cycle of debt perpetrated by predatory consumer loans.

Furman has spent more than 25 years in private equity and advisory, with a key focus on financial services, fintech and payments.

“I wanted to create a technology that seamlessly plugs into payroll that allows employees to access their pay in real time, if and when they need it, to help reduce their financial stress. Financial stress is the leading cause of mental health problems, so solving that problem can go a long way,”

Steven Furman, Founder & CEO | Paytime

Financial stress is a significant issue in the workplace, and has proven to be closely linked to mental health issues. It impacts more people than some may think, with 50% of Australians living pay cheque to pay cheque, while 33% can’t afford a $500 emergency, research from NAB/MLC and CBA respectively reveals.

“By offering a financial wellbeing benefit such as Paytime to your workforce, you’re building an organisation that is financially inclusive and supportive, without requiring your employees to step forward and confess their financial troubles, which is stressful in itself. Paytime means they can access the money they have already earned,” he says.

Furman explains that unbudgeted expenses often crop up mid-month, and by forcing employees to wait until payday, they often have no choice but to use credit cards, payday loans and BNPL schemes to ”fill the gap”.

“Paytime allows CFOs to equip employees with the tools to reach their financial goals by elevating them to a position of surplus, making it easier to save,” he says.

Paytime enables employers to pay their staff earned wages in real time, eliminating the need to wait for a set pay day to access their income when needed. For employees, this can reduce the stress of managing their finances, improving mental health and wellness.

It’s about nurturing a healthier and more responsible ‘save now buy later’ mentality, which provides far healthier financial outcomes for people.

“By stepping in and smoothening income, employees are able to meet their expenses when they fall due, which makes budgeting easier and simpler”, Furman says.

“There are many reasons why employees don’t disclose their financial stress to their employers. It’s deeply personal, and may be wrongly viewed as a sign of weakness, irresponsibility or incompetence,” he says.

“So many workers are forced to wait to receive pay, and are stressed about matching up expenses to the timing of their income. Paytime changes all of that, providing a safety net for workers to enable their money to work harder and smarter for them,” he says.

Paytime’s research reveals that of those who are financially stressed, 70 per cent worry at work due to money problems, 25% lose sleep worrying about finances, and 100% are less committed to finishing daily tasks. This results in $31 billion in lost productivity in Australia alone, each year, he says.

For employers, Paytime provides not only a valuable incentive to show loyalty to their current employees, improving retention rates, but also a proven tool to attract and recruit staff in a tight labour market, Furman says.  

The technology integrates with existing payroll systems via an API, meaning you don’t have to change the way you handle payroll. The platform does all the heavy lifting so there’s no additional work, with everything automated. Furman is determined to ensure that all the heavy lifting is done by his team, ensuring there are no barriers to the company in offering it to their staff.

It is important to note, that because one can only access a portion of what has already been earned, Paytime is not a loan, there is no interest charged and there is nothing to pay back. There is also no effect on the company’s working capital as Paytime provides the intra-month advances to staff. The company charges a small fee on each transaction (think ATM fee equivalent).

Brands across the USA and UK are racing to be the first in their industry to offer Earned Wage Access to their employees. With the early adopters being Uber, McDonald’s, PayPal, KFC, Target, Foot Locker, Bupa, Crowne Plaza, Pizza Hut and many more.

For more information on Paytime, visit : www.Paytime.com.au